Last year, as Alexander Payne was getting going on The Descendants, we got word that he was also planning an adaptation of the graphic novel Wilson, by Ghost World and Art School Confidential creator Daniel Clowes. We haven’t heard much about that project in a bit, but now Clowes says that the film is still in the works, and will be Payne’s next film after the black and white father/son roadtrip movie Nebraska. While I wouldn’t take the “next movie after Nebraska” idea as gospel, it is good to know the project isn’t dead. Sadly, some other Clowes film projects are dead; we’ll run down all the current status reports after the break. Read More »

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The first trailer for The Descendants, Alexander Payne‘s first feature film as director since Sideways in 2004, set up a lot of story: George Clooney is a relatively uninvolved dad who has to step up and take care of his two daughters when his wife suffers an accident, only to learn that there are things about his wife’s life he didn’t know.

This second trailer is more of a teaser that puts the movie across as a more gentle, perhaps even quirky story than we saw in the full trailer. It tells us that the fact that the story takes place in Hawaii shouldn’t lead us to expect something cheery and easy, but then offers up a relatively cheery and easy look at the film. Oh, and the trailer is propped up in the middle by a nice two-part quote from some guy named Peter Sciretta. Check it out below. Read More »

During my first day at the Telluride Film Festival, I had the opportunity to screen Alexander Payne‘s The Descendants and the much talked about Cannes sensation The Artist, a black and white silent film set in the silent-era Hollywood. Both of the films will be vying for awards come Oscar season, and you can get the scoop right here. Also after the jump is a couple of ramblings and musings on how Telluride has changed in the information age and rise of social media, along with some of the photos I’ve taken during my first day in this small mountain town.

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The Telluride Film Festival, a presentation of the National Film Preserve which takes place beginning tomorrow, Friday Sept 2 and runs through Monday Sept 5, is an unusual beast as far as film festivals go. The core film lineup is not announced until the day before the festival begins, so attendees have to commit to the fest without knowing any of the movies that will definitely play.

Now the first list of films is out, and it has some expected inclusions such as David Cronenberg‘s A Dangerous Method (trailer) and the Cannes fave The Artist (trailer). In addition there are some good surprises, such as Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender‘s reunion, Shame (pics), and the Dardenne BrothersThe Kid With a Bike.

More films will be announced at the last minute over the next couple days. One addition, for example, according to Kris Tapley, is Butter. Peter is arriving in Telluride later today so he’ll have coverage of the festival during the holiday weekend. Check out the announced lineup below. Read More »

If you’re more interested in the typical fall slate of festival entrees than summer’s glut of tentpole action fare, this is a great week. The Toronto International Film Festival announced the first wave of films that will play the fest in September. This is a batch of about 50 titles, which makes up only a small chunk of the programming. Usually TIFF features between two and three hundred films. But these are some of the highest-profile entries.

Below you’ll find rundowns on the new films from George Clooney, Bennett Miller, Jay & Mark Duplass, Todd Solondz, Francis Ford Coppola, Cameron Crowe, Sarah Polley, Fernando Meirelles, Lars von Trier, Marc Forster, Steve McQueen, Alexander Payne, and Lynne Ramsay. No announcement yet of the Midnight Madness programming choices, always some of my faves, but this is a great start. Read More »

It has been seven long years since Alexander Payne last had a film in theaters. He’s done a lot of work since Sideways, producing some films (Cedar Rapids) and television (Hung) and working to develop quite a few projects. He spent some significant time on the film Downsizing, which was shelved late in development; that’s when he jumped at making The Descendants with George Clooney. This one is right in Payne’s wheelhouse: the story of a father dealing with his two daughters after an accident leaves his wife terrible injured. While trying to get back into being a proper father, he discovers that his wife had been having an affair, and things get emotional from there.

The first trailer has landed, and fans of Alexander Payne’s previous films will probably love it. Everyone else should check it out just for a brief bit featuring Robert Forster. Read More »

One of my favorite films of the 1990′s is Alexander Payne‘s brilliant dark comedy Election starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon.

For those of you who haven’t seen the film, Broderick stars as a high school civics teacher named Jim McAllister who will not let the school’s annoying overachieving honor student Tracy Flick (Witherspoon) run unopposed for student body president. He convinces popular varsity football player Paul Metzler (a breakout performance from Chris Klein) to run for president as well, and anything and everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. While the film did well critically (Witherspoon’s performance was voted the 45th Greatest Movie Performances of All Time by Premiere Magazine, and the film was ranked at #9 on Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Best High School Movies) and was even nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, I run into a lot of film fanatics who have never seen this film (if you’re a member of this group, I strongly encourage you to rent or buy it).

I’ve watched the film countless times, and have even seen the movie three times on the big screen. I was surprised to learn that the film’s ending was not what was originally intended/written/filmed. The DVD release of the movie contains no deleted ending, and in doing research for this post, I couldn’t even find a reference to an alternate ending for this movie anywhere on the web. But it exists — /Film reader John G sent me a link to the six-minute original ending sequence, which had been recently uploaded to YouTube. This footage was reportedly discovered on an unlabeled VHS tape containing an early work print of the film, sold at a local flea market. Watch the sequence embedded after the jump.

Note: If it isn’t already obvious, its probably not worth watching unless you’ve seen the movie (and yes, spoilers).
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If you woke up this morning hoping to see George Clooney run around Hawaii like an idiot, well, you’re in luck. The first clip of Clooney in Alexander Payne‘s long overdue follow-up to the 2004 Oscar winner Sideways, The Descendants, has just come online, teasing a website about the film called Who Is He? Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings and scheduled for release December 16, The Descendants is about an attorney forced to reexamine his life and make some very difficult decisions when his wife gets into a terrible accident. Besides Clooney, the film stars Judy Greer, Matthew Lilliard, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, Shailene Woodley and more. Watch the clip after the jump. Read More »

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